Nippon Beer, Ginza Beer Hall, c. 1950
“The leading breweries of Japan are located at Yokohama, Tokio, Osaka, Nakano Mura near Tokio, and Sapporo. The Sapporo brewery, at the place of the same name, was founded in 1876 by the colonial government of Hokkaido with a view to encourage the industry and to furnish a market for the barley which was being successfully grown in the vicinity.
“In 1886 the plant passed to private proprietors in the persons of Messrs. Okura & Co. and, two years later, the business was incorporated as the Sapporo Brewing Company Ltd. The latter occasion marked a departure by which the brewery became a modern plant – ice machines and malting and bottling apparatus being imported from Germany. At first, on account of the limited demand, the output was only about 2,500 barrels annually but with the increased demand came a corresponding expansion of the brewery’s facilities until now it is run to its full yearly capacity of 25,000 barrels.
“Much of the barley raised in the Hokkaido district is manufactured into malt for the Sapporo Brewing Company, the bottled product of the brewery being shipped not only to different portions of Japan but to many of the parts of Eastern Asia.”
– One Hundred Years of Brewing: A Complete History of the Progress Made in the Art Science and Industry of Brewing in the World, The Western Brewer, 1901
“In its first real public debut, ‘Sapporo Cold-Brewed Beer’ appeared as one of five entrants in the First Domestic Industrial Encouragement Exhibition, held in Ueno, Tokyo, in late June and July 1877. Several such exhibitions were staged in Japan during the late nineteenth-century, in order to promote technical capability in domestic manufacturing … After the exhibition, in September 1877, Sapporo staged an official product launch in Tokyo, called a haraisage (put up for sale). To announce the sale, the development office placed five advertisements in three Tokyo newspapers, including the Yubin Yochi Shimbun.”
– Brewed in Japan: The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry, by Jeffrey W. Alexander, 2013
From the wiki: “The origins of this company are in Sapporo, Hokkaido during the Meiji period, where the Hokkaido Development Commission (Kaitakushi) established many businesses. Hops were discovered growing wild on the island of Hokkaido, and a man named Seibei Nakagawa was dispatched to Germany to learn the brewing trade. Nakagawa became the first brewmaster of the Kaitakushi Brewery in June 1876, and the first Sapporo Lager was produced at that time. On the same year, the first shipment was made to Tokyo. The ship proudly carried a flag of the Kaitakushi [Hokkaido Development Commission] whose symbol was the North Star. And from then on, the star became the symbol of today’s Sapporo Breweries representing its pioneering spirit. Privatized in 1886, the Sapporo brewery became the centerpiece for the Sapporo Beer Company.
“In 1887, another company, the Japan Beer Brewery Company was established in Mita, Meguro, Tokyo, and began producing Yebisu Beer. By 1901, it was the fourth-largest producer of beer in Japan (after Yebisu, Asahi and Kirin). The competition between Sapporo and Japan Beer, as well as competition with the Osaka (now Asahi) and Kirin breweries led to a 1906 merger of Sapporo, Japan, and Osaka breweries into the Dai-Nippon Beer Company, Ltd., which formed a near monopoly on the Japanese market until after World War II.
“After 1949, Dai-Nippon was split into two independent companies – the Nippon and Asahi breweries – with Nippon Breweries resuming production of ‘Sapporo Beer’ in 1956 and renaming itself to the present name, Sapporo Breweries, in 1964.”